“I protect my officer with my life, and would gladly take a bullet in his place.”
From the K-9 Prayer
There is no way to know how many tragedies have been averted or how many times troopers have made it home safely because of the presence of a Florida Highway Patrol K-9. These faithful companions have been working alongside troopers to accomplish the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ mission of A Safer Florida. In memory of those K-9s who have passed, Trooper Mike Van Leer has created an FHP K-9 Memorial Wall.
The Memorial Wall is located in the K-9 training facility in Tallahassee and features the photographs and biographies of the 36 K-9s who have died between November 1990 and September 2011. Five of those were killed in the line of duty.
K-9 Abbey was one of the original four canines deployed by the Florida Highway Patrol in 1984. After completion of training with her assigned handler, Trooper Richard "Spanky" Chapman, Abbey reported for duty on the Florida Turnpike. During her career, Abbey helped the Patrol with more than 797 felony arrests and with confiscating illegal narcotics valued at more than $47 million and more than $725,000 in drug-related currency. On Nov. 18, 1988, while conducting a canine sniff of narcotics, Abbey was overcome by unknown chemicals. The chemicals also momentarily incapacitated Chapman. Abbey retired in June 1991 and died in July 1992 of a rare liver cancer, directly related to the 1988 incident.
K-9 Major began his career with the Florida Highway Patrol Oct. 23, 1989. After completion of K-9 Patrol and Drug Detection schools in March 1990, Major and his handler, Trooper Mike Smith, were assigned to Troop G in Jacksonville. In his short career, Major played a key role in seizing approximately $100,000 of illegal drugs. On Nov. 29, 1990, Smith and Trooper Mike King conducted a traffic stop of a cargo truck. While searching the vehicle, a passing car struck Major, who died at the scene.
More stories about FHP’s four-legged, furry troopers can be found on the K-9 Memorial webpage.